Monday, 19th April 2021

This Month's Magazine
Is higher education for the masses really working?

Is higher education for the masses really working?

Too many students enter university for the wrong reasons

University funding cuts and student protests have recently dominated the news scene but public support has been diminishing since the alarming scenes of violence and destruction have been flashed onto our television screens. These extraordinary images of ´students´ smashing windows, setting fire to placards, hurling bricks, vandalising public property and generally engaging in the same tactics that we might usually associate with “radicals” would cause one to suspect that these demonstrations had been overtaken by a bunch of anarchists and Marxists.

It beggars belief that these hooded and masked rioters are the future professional workforce of Britain! Could it be that higher education for the masses is just not working? Too many students enter university for the wrong reasons e.g. to get away from home; to have the freedom to drink themselves into a stupor night after night; because their parents want them to get a degree; because all their friends are going to uni; and the vast majority of these students drop out in the first year.

According to recent government research, financial stress is the most common reason for leaving a course however, higher education in Scotland is free yet the student drop-out rates are the worst in the UK with 9.9 per cent of students dropping out by the end of the first year. Perhaps this goes to show that when something is for free it is not fully appreciated however, universities with high numbers of dropouts claim this is caused largely by the numbers of students they recruit from poorer backgrounds. They claim that financial pressures and social difficulties arising from fitting in with a largely middle-class intake have a disproportionately high impact on poor students.


Perhaps in these cases bursary awards or merit based scholarships should be offered to gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds but to open the door to everyone simply cannot work as many of these students should not be there at all, they should either be doing a vocational course or learning their trade on the shop floor.

Several years of solid industry experience is of more use to many of these students than three or four years of university education which will result in them starting their working lives drenched in debt with a degree that may just not be worth having in the present economic climate. With university fees in the UK set to rocket from 3,000 or 4,000 per annum to 9,000 this will, perhaps, initiate a new beginning for higher education. Prospective students may research different methods of achieving their goals as some degrees do not exactly prepare young people for any particular role. By investing more in student support and by encouraging young people to establish where their best skills and talents lie before embarking on a higher education course may just restore the university degree to the goldplated investment it once was.

Students at Mayfair International Academy benefit from both academic and vocational courses which can be combined to offer the student the best of both worlds. Students at the Academy can study towards both A level qualifications and a professional qualification in the Fitness Industry at the same time. The Professional Footballers course includes the Fitness Professional course or an A level course with a choice of subjects on offer. The Academy also offers regular A level courses for the pure academic with a choice of subjects which will allow them to achieve university entry.

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